If you use Gnome 3 with more than one monitor attached to your computer, Gnome 3 will make one of your displays the so-called primary display. It will display the Top Bar containing the Activities Button, Clock and Status Menu there. Also, the overview with the Dash and the Workspace list will be displayed on this screen only. Sometimes, Gnome 3 might choose the wrong monitor as the primary display and you need to change it manually. Unfortunately, Gnome 3 does not provide a GUI for this as of yet, so you’ll have to edit the configuration files yourself.
Permanently changing the primary display
If you want to permanently change your primary display, you need to edit the file
~/.config/monitors.xml in your home directory. It’s an XML file that contains a list of all the displays attached to your computer. Each monitor will have a tag called
primary, which can be either
no. Here is an example containing configuration for two monitors, one connected via VGA and one connected via DVI, the latter one being the primary display:
You need to find the right monitor, where you want your Top bar and Overview be displayed and change the content of the
primary tag of that display to
yes. Of course, all other monitors
primary tags should be set to
no. That’s it. On your next login into Gnome 3, the settings from this file will be applied and you are set.
Temporarily changing your primary display
If you just want to change your primary display until the end of your session, you could use
xrandr to change the display temporarily.
xrandr without any parameters to display a list of available monitors and their display ids.
Screen 0: minimum 320 x 200, current 2560 x 1063, maximum 8192 x 8192
VGA-0 connected 1280x1024+1280+39 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 340mm x 270mm
DVI-0 connected 1280x1024+0+0 (normal left inverted right x axis y axis) 376mm x 301mm
In the example above, I’ve omitted some of the output. I only listed those lines that contain the display ids of the monitors. Again, we have two monitors attached to the computer, one via VGA and one via DVI. Suppose your current primary display is the VGA monitor and you wanted to set your DVI screen as the new primary monitor. Then you would call
xrandr like so:
xrandr --output DVI-0 --primary
To reset, call
xrandr again and change the
output parameter to
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